Yesterday I posted a note that it was snowing in this area. Shortly after I posted that note, I noticed that highway 401 had started flowing past my house going eastbound. This is not uncommon when snow is happening, the volume of traffic in one direction or the other increases and the number of transports increases accordingly. That’s the final signal something has closed the highway.
It was later in the day when someone from head office called to find out if I was home or at my office. She told me that a serious crash had closed the 401. Checking the news sites I hang out on quickly confirmed what she had told me, initial reports were saying five had been killed on Canada’s busiest highway and traffic in both directions had been stopped as a multi-vehicle crash in the east bound lane had triggered a fuel tanker to explode and burn just east of Cobourg. Two have been confirmed dead. News coverage this morning shows a scene that looks like a war zone aftermath not a piece of busy highway. The Globe & Mail this morning carries a story of a eye witness report to the situation.
Snow had been heavy at times yesterday which often generates whiteout conditions. For anyone living in a no snow area, a whiteout is when snow becomes heavy enough that visibility is reduced to or near zero. When you’re driving and you drive into those conditions, it’s frightening. You have to take a deep breath, ease the speed down SLOWLY as you don’t want to hit your breaks and risk a spinout on slippery roads. The whole while you’re seeking anything to tell you that you’re still heading in the same direction and haven’t crossed the line. Then you pray that no one spins out, comes flying up behind you or worse, you behind someone else — as you wait for it to clear enough to see.
As much as humanly possible, I avoid leaving the house during snow storms and if I am out, I usually avoid being on the 401. I’d rather take my time along secondary roads than to be at the mercy of transports especially going out of control which is part of what appears to have happened yesterday.
As I write this it appears the highway is still closed in both directions but they are expecting to get at least one lane each way open by noon today. The eastbound lanes have been damaged and as a result are expected to remain close for a few days while repairs are made. I’m east of the exit where the traffic is being rerouted from at the east end of the crash site but traffic is still heavier than normal past here at this time.
It is snowing again, not heavily but enough that I’m hoping drivers are really careful driving past here. My house is not very far off the road and I start to get very concerned about heavy volumes of traffic near me.